We obviously can’t really judge the state of the Eagles until we see this team play, but Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman have now been working together for about 2 months and I thought it would be interesting to see where we stand.
* QB – I was disappointed that they made the decision to bring Michael Vick back, but I do understand it in the context of what is available and what they’re trying to do. Chip wants true competition. He wants every player to have to earn their spot on the roster, as well as a spot in the lineup. Instead of spending resources to trade for Alex Smith or hoping to sign the right guy in free agency, Kelly and Roseman decided to keep Vick at a reduced rate and let him and Nick Foles battle for the job.
Changes could still be coming. Foles could be dealt for the right offer. The Eagles could take a QB in the draft in one of the first 3 rounds. We’ll have to wait and watch on that.
I do think Howie did a good job of landing Dennis Dixon and GJ Kinne. Dixon is a major mystery, but fits the system. Low risk with upside. Kinne is a camp arm, but again…fits the system.
* FA – I did not anticipate the Eagles being aggressive in free agency. I was thinking the team would sign 3, maybe 4 starters. I figured they would add depth/competition guys in late March/early April. Boy was I wrong.
The Eagles signed 5 players on the first day. 4 of them should be starters. The Eagles then added another 3 FAs and traded for a WR. The Eagles added 9 new players in the first week of the offseason. Wow.
What I’d love to know is who pushed for this, Chip or Howie? I’m sure they agreed on the strategy before doing it, but one of them had to be more into the idea of adding the bodies. Howie is an aggressive GM, but was burned by 2011 and then quiet last year.
Did Chip say something like “I want to use every weapon at my disposal. Free agency can help this team so heck yes let’s dive in there and get some players. Ignoring FA would be dumb.”
I think Chip and Howie played the market well and added the right type of guys.
* Toughness – There were times in 2012 when Eagles games resembled sorority pillow fights more than NFL games. The team was wuss central. I’m glad Chip saw that and wanted change. The players let go and the players brought in tell us a lot. Gone is the Charmin Brigade of DRC and Nnamdi. In comes Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Those guys are big corners that actually play…big.
Kenny Phillips is here to fight for the FS job. Phillips is a good hitter and tackler. Patrick Chung is here to be the SS. He is 215 pounds and plays with an edge. Yes, he will get beat in coverage at times. He will also knock your block off.
Isaac Sopoaga is here to be the NT. He’s 330 pounds. He has no problem with taking on double teams and doing the dirty work.
And finally, think about Arrelious Benn. We traded for a WR who is a good blocker and STs player? What in the name of Andrew Ried is going on here? I love the message this sends to the other skill players. Get tough, or you might get gone.
* Size – Chip loved big players at Oregon (mostly big). He has brought that here to Philly. Rather than write a lot here, just check out this good article from Ed Kracz for more on this angle.
* Versatility – Chip Kelly loves to be creative. You need the right players to do this. The Eagles added a lot of versatile guys. James Casey can be the FB, TE, or H-back. He can line up all over and do a variety of things. Connor Barwin has played 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE. He can play on the strongside or the weakside. Kenny Phillips has SS size and toughness. He has the range and ball skills to be a FS. Isaac Sopoaga has started at NT and 5-tech DE.
* STs – The Eagles have struggled on STs in recent years. One area would get solved and another one would fall apart. Chip and Howie are being aggressive in dealing with this. Benn was added as a KOR and cover guy. Sam Lynch pointed out that Benn led the Bucs in STs tackles when he got hurt last year.
The Eagles signed LB Jason Phillips on the first day of FA. He led the Carolina Panthers in STs tackles last year. In his career, he’s got a couple of FFs in STs play. SS Patrick Chung has had success at blocking kicks in his career.
Overall I feel pretty good about what Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman have done. They seem to be on the same page, which is critical for a coach and GM. Howie can scout. He needs Kelly to tell him specifically what to look for. So far that seems to be working.
The upcoming draft will really help give us an idea of what is going on with Chip, Howie, and the Eagles. Those players will be the ones that the team is planning to build around, not just guys to fill holes on the roster.
* * * * *
I wrote about Geno Smith yesterday. One person accused me of not making the case for the Eagles taking Geno. First, a lot of people have been talking up Smith recently so I didn’t feel the need to do that extensively. Also, I did have these blurbs:
“Could Smith be Kelly’s guy? It is possible. I don’t question Geno’s talent. The guy makes some throws that are breathtaking. He has good accuracy and great touch. His arm is maybe a hint above average, but nothing special. It is certainly good enough to be a starter. Smith is a smart player that generally makes good decisions.”
“It is possible that Smith gets to the NFL and thrives. He could become a star player. His improved footwork will help. Maybe West Va was a dysfunctional team and that affected him in a negative way. If he gets with the right coach and players, maybe Smith turns out to be a franchise QB.”
I try to choose my topics carefully. Geno is the top QB to most people. The Eagles aren’t set at QB. Making the connection of him to the Eagles is pretty easy. To me, the more compelling post is explaining why I believe the team shouldn’t make the move.
In the next 6 weeks, I’ll be talking about players I do and don’t want. This isn’t personal. I watch tape and do research on these guys. Some I think will be good players, but don’t fit the Eagles. Some players I just don’t think will succeed in the NFL or won’t do so enough to warrant where they’ll be drafted.
We all see things differently. This isn’t about right and wrong. We just don’t agree. NFL scouts don’t always agree. NFL teams have draft boards that are very different. Argue for your player, but don’t be offended when I think differently. Trust me when I tell you that I’ve looked at things from your perspective. I have written out mock drafts with the Eagles going in every direction possible.
I look at every side of the issue when it comes to the Eagles. I am desperate for us to win a Super Bowl. I want the team to make whatever moves are necessary to do that. Don’t worry about who I like or what I want. Bring me the friggin’ Lombardi Trophy.